It can be difficult for retiring service members and their spouses to find supports outside the military system.  Like all of us, they get used to the ones they’ve been using.  Can they access the doctors and supports they have had for their child?  Does retirement change their benefits or access to health care?  How can a dependent child continue their services when their military parent retires?  This chart can help you understand which services their child will keep, and what civilian options you can help them explore.


Benefits: Active Duty or Active Reserve Keep benefits? Retired with 20 or more years of service Equivalent Civilian Resources                              
TRICARE Medical Coverage (may include case management, mental health, hospice care) Yes, but there may be financial costs for the first time.


TRICARE for children after age 21, up to age 26 (including college students)



Yes-up to age 23 if in college (or up to graduation); after which and up to age 26, child may be eligible for TRICARE Young Adult, which charges premiums, has co-pays and deductibles.
TRICARE benefits after age 26 through secondary dependency Yes
ABA Services through TRICARE’s Autism Demonstration Project Yes.
Extended Care Health Option (ECHO) provides supplemental support and services not available through TRICARE’s regular coverage. Some benefits similar to Medicaid HCBS waivers No Medicaid HCBS Waiver *
Respite Care through ECHO and other programs No (but there are a few military-supporting organizations than do offer respite care for retiree’s families who have children with disabilities-contact the Branch) Medicaid HCBS Waiver *
Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Family Support (help with navigating military and some civilian service systems)


Yes, at the discretion of individual EFMP staff Parent Centers
Military Child Care Benefits


  • Private: not subsidized, but can use the directory:
  • If a family has income restrictions, many States have subsidized care through Department of Health and Human Services (or equivalent)
School Liaison Office for help navigating school systems and services. No Parent Centers
Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children Children are covered by the provisions of the Compact for one year after service member’s retirement. Parent Centers
Free Tutoring from No Parent Center referral-most likely fee for service


*Because of military family mobility, including when retiring from the military, retaining a place on a HCBS Waiver wait list is extremely challenging. Some states have made legislative changes to help military families retain earned priority to receive HCBS WaiversHowever, families still need to apply for waiver services when moving from state to state.


Additional Civilian Resources:




Note: if a family’s service member left or is leaving the military before retiring (“separated from the military”) benefits are usually limited to a brief “transitional” period. Contact your Branch regional representative for information. (located on the map at the Home page)



For a PDF version of this document, please contact us at or by calling 253.565.2266, ext. 112